As spring slowly creeps into Wisconsin and I look forward to putting away my heavy winter parka, gloves, and wool sweaters, I can’t help but get excited about wearing brighter and lighter clothes.  We each have our own ideas about fashion and as Marilyn Monroe once said, “Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.”  While I don’t personally think a pair of shoes can  have that much impact, I do think a fashion event coming up this fall in Milwaukee will have significant impact for the House and two other Milwaukee charities.  Many of you may have read the press release or heard that Nordstrom is opening its first Wisconsin store this fall, in Milwaukee, at Mayfair Mall.  Each time Nordstrom, Inc. opens a store in a new city they throw a Gala that benefits local charities.

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23 Mar 2015

I love my job at the House!

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My name is Tiffany Klopp and I am the Family Services Director at RMHC.  I have been at the House for almost six years.  Since the first time I walked through the main doors I knew this House was special and that this was where I belonged.  I often wonder when I’m driving home how to put into words the experience of the House that I love so dearly.

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In his novel, Seed Folks, author Paul Fleischman wrote “You can’t see Canada from Lake Erie but you know it’s there. It is the same with spring. You have to have faith, especially in Cleveland.”

The vernal equinox, arriving in Milwaukee on March 20 at 5:45 pm, will usher in longer days. Temperatures will warm and we can work in our gardens. Not soon enough for some of us.

An early spring task should be pruning deciduous trees and shrubs for shape and to remove crossing and old or dead branches. Do not prune spring flowering specimens until after they have bloomed. Many trees and shrubs set their flower buds last season.

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It’s the little things….

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of life, slowing down to breathe and take a moment to look and listen is often last on the list. I came in to work today with a list already forming in my mind, so much to do today….so little time….You know the drill.

As I was walking to get water there was a very energetic little girl running around in the Great Room.  I paused and said good morning and she ran up to me and gave me a dollar.  If only all of my development work was this easy!!!  “I want you to have this” she said.  I asked her what her name was, “Roxi” she informed me, she’s three, and will be 4 when it’s hot outside.  Roxi enthusiastically showed me her light up Elsa shoes and again told me that the dollar was for me “to give to the children,” off Roxi ran to get more toys.  I asked the mom if this was ok and she told me, “it’s Roxi’s dollar to do with as she chooses.” After that, Roxi and I walked into the Green Room to put the dollar in the donation house.  She was thrilled and proud, reminding me once again of the importance of slowing down.

Thank you Roxi for sharing your smile, your enthusiasm and your dollar.  My eyes, ears and heart are open to the possibilities this day holds!

Bridget Kesner | Director of Development

Bridget has extensive experience in all areas of fundraising and is a huge asset to our existing development team as we focus on our strategic plans and funding our now-larger Ronald McDonald House. Bridget’s prior position was Director of Development at Marquette University.  Bridget knows our House well as she has been a House volunteer prior to accepting her new role at the house.


Roxi and Bridget



The days are getting longer, cardinals and chickadees are singing. Soon the red-winged blackbirds will be back, and you may spot a brave robin. Red dossier dogwood bark is a brilliant scarlet red, and it is maple syrup making time. Despite the cold temperatures, everyday feels closer to spring. The Secret Garden UW-Extension Master Gardener volunteers are busy taking classes and planning next year’s vegetable and flower gardens. We are working on some significant landscape changes. This winter we have taken classes in vegetable gardening, edible landscaping, gardening for wildlife, shade gardening, new trees, shrubs and perennials. We have many more to come! We have already begun starting our vegetable pants under gro-lights. Have you heard about the “Ketchup and Fries” plant? It is a cherry tomato plant grafted onto a potato plant. Wouldn’t it be fun and space efficient to harvest tomatoes all summer, and then dig up potatoes at the end of the season!

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On Monday, February 9, 2015 Ronald McDonald House Charities Eastern Wisconsin put on their 29th annual Chefs’ Dinner, hosted at the University Club of Milwaukee. As the Special Events Intern, I had the privilege to attend and volunteer at this impressive event. I will be graduating Marquette University in the spring with a degree in Public Relations and hope to pursue a career in event planning. After a night like Chefs’ Dinner, I know that I am headed down the right path.  I started working with the House at the beginning of the year, so most of the planning for this event had already been taken care of.  I was able to help with some of the last minute work, like creating our day of event signs, and working on the auction.  I had never helped with an auction before, and then I was told that I would be one of the people responsible for it, at the event.  There were a wide variety of items in the auction (ranging from travel packages to fine dining) and they certainly brought out a competitive streak in many of the bidders. It was quite entertaining to watch the hopeful winners hover around the auction items as we counted down the final seconds to bid.

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Many of us in the not-for-profit world frequently hear the expression “no money, no mission.”  What this means is that no matter how great an organization’s mission is, if funds do not exist to support the mission, the mission cannot move forward.  Monday, February 9 marked the 29th Annual Chefs’ Dinner for the Ronald McDonald House.  This is the first major fundraising event for the House each year and provides guests with a unique culinary experience and an opportunity to come together with others who are passionate about the House mission.  Knut Apitz of Milwaukee’s treasured Grenadier’s restaurant, and Jim Pihos, an original founding RMHC board member and McDonald’s owner/operator, had a vision to showcase two of their passions in one event and the Chefs’ Dinner idea was born in 1985.   This year the dinner was sold out weeks in advance and provided our 200 attendees with a wonderful sampling of six courses of food with wine pairings celebrating the theme, “A Taste of Italy.”  Chef Joe Muench, owner of Maxie’s, Blue’s Egg, and the new Story Hill BKC coordinated a team of distinguished chefs for this year’s dinner  included Justin Aprahamian of Sanford Restaurant, Mike Engel of Pastiche Bistro & Wine Bar, Thi Cao of Buckley’s Restaurant and Bar, Jan Kelly of Meritage, and Jeff Slough of Pike Lake House.  The wine was donated by Capitol-Husting Co. and members of MATC and Jeff Steren’s McDonald stores provided impeccable service.

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Check out our new “wheels!” RMHC is thrilled to announce we have a new passenger van for our families. The van transports our guests to and from the hospital, grocery store and to complete other errands as needed. It’s been 8 years, and nearly 88,000 miles since our last van, and boy did we need a new vehicle! No one knows this better than our volunteer van drivers.

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Ann Phillips
January 22, 2015

The Secret Garden team of UW-Extension Master Gardeners have a winter book club. For January, we read The Roots of My Obsession, edited by Thomas C. Cooper. In a collection of 30 essays, the best known and most important voices in international gardening speak about the motivation that brought them to spending hours on their hands and knees. As others quote, “There is a mystery at the heart of gardening.” Some said they wanted to achieve beauty, some to heal the earth, and some saying it was something they simply had to do.

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This quote was on a card given to me by my daughter in honor of my first day of “work” at the House.  I was touched by the sentiment that so accurately reflected how I felt about beginning a new job, in the new year, in a new position that perfectly aligns with my  passion for the mission of the House and with work I know my hands can do in my new role as Development Director. As a former volunteer, I was well acquainted with many aspects of the House and how it works, I believed in the mission, I had met many of the staff members over the course of my shift or through my interview process, but I have to be honest, the first weeks have been a little overwhelming.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE IT HERE!  The passion of the people who work tirelessly every day to make this House a Home is inspiring, the attention this team pays to every detail regarding our families and their needs is amazing, I am so proud to be a part of this team.  It truly does take a village to get things accomplished here and this is a very special village.

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